Despite the economic slowdown in the U.S., two of the U.K.’s largest insurers, CGNU and Prudential plc, reported strong first quarter sales growth with new business in the U.K. up over 20 percent.
Measured by the U.K.’s “annual premium equivalent” basis, the British industry standard, which counts all regular premium sales plus 10 percent of single premiums, CGNU reported a 22 percent rise to £2.2 billion ($3.16 billion)and Pru a 29 percent increase to £642 million ($922 million).
Both companies were helped by increased sales of pensions and annuities, particularly in the U.K. by the marketing of “stakeholder pensions” under a new government plan to provide retirement benefits on a basis similar to U.S. IRA’s.
Although still occupied by its aborted merger plan with American General, Pru intends to expand both its insurance marketing activities and its on-line bank, Egg plc, into France. It will begin offering pension products this year through its alliance with CNP Assurances and a subsidiary of real estate lender Crédit Foncier.
As a general insurer CGNU has benefited from the trend towards increases in premiums worldwide, and apparently from its decision to exit the U.S. p/c market. Worldwide new business figures showed a 7 percent rise to £3.7 billion ($ 5.31 billion) for the quarter.
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